THE HAGUE, Netherlands (CN) – Kicking off an entrepreneur summit in the Netherlands alongside the Dutch prime minister, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo advocated Monday for looser business regulation and lower taxes.
Pompeo spoke at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, an annual gathering of investors, business leaders and government officials to discuss entrepreneurship worldwide. The 2019 edition is co-hosted by the U.S. and the Netherlands and is being held in The Hague.
The secretary of state focused more on politics than other speakers and advocated for lower taxes and less regulation on businesses, telling the crowd during his opening keynote, “Let’s all make entrepreneurship great again!” – a twist on President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.
Trump, who is on a state visit to the United Kingdom this week, did not accept the Dutch king’s invitation to attend the summit.
The Global Entrepreneurship Summit was started in 2010 by then-U.S. President Barack Obama and has become an annual event, co-hosted every year by the U.S. and another country. Previous Summits have taken place in India, Kenya and Malaysia.
The 2019 summit began Monday with an address from the leader of the hosting city. The Hague Mayor Pauline Krikke told attendees, “Our world faces major challenges. But when I look around me here, I know we can handle them because we can count on the power of entrepreneurs.”
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte echoed a similar, positive sentiment.
“We have the opportunity to improve the future now,” he said.
Other notable figures set to speak at this year’s three-day summit include the Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, President Donald Trump’s daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump and Frans van Houten, CEO of electronics giant Philips.
Topics for this year’s summit include diversity, water management and health policy.
“The GES is a really great opportunity to do business and find other people who think like you, who work like you,” said Erik Jansen, one of the 2,000 attendees expected over the next three days.
Tuesday’s session will be opened by the Netherlands King Willem-Alexander and will include Queen Máxima and U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, among others. Ivanka Trump will speak on Wednesday.
King Willem-Alexander also invited President Trump to the Netherlands to join in a commemoration ceremony for the Battle of the Scheldt in August, but U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands Pete Hoekstra told a Dutch radio program that the president will not attend, in part because the U.S. did not participate in the battle. Canadian, British and Polish fought over a month in 1944 in Belgium and the Netherlands to open supply routes to Antwerp for the benefit of Allied forces.